Givanni Damico | June 16th, 2019
After getting off to a 9-13-4 start through 26 games, there were not high hopes for the Blues to make a postseason run. The offense was struggling to put the puck in the net, and Jake Allen was an inconsistent nightmare in the crease. Vladimir Tarasenko uncharacteristically recorded just 24 points in the first 40 games of the season. The Blues had high hopes going into the season after acquiring Ryan O’Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres as well as signing veteran winger Tyler Bozak. They had the pieces for a great season, but it all started at the top.
Head coach Mike Yeo was fired in November and replaced by interim head coach Craig Berube. Berube had a different mindset about the Blues’ season. He wanted the standings board in the locker room taken down so that the team didn’t look at themselves as a bottom-dwelling team. It took Berube to recognize that the offense was not the main issue with the team. The main issue was goaltending. The problem with Jake Allen was inconsistency. He didn’t have a terrible season, but it seemed as though he could not put together a streak of good games in the net. He finished with a 19-17-8 record allowing 2.83 goals against average and recording a .905 save percentage. It was clear that this type of play was not going to bring the Blues into contention. Berube saw promise in a 25-year old kid playing with the San Antonio Rampage named Jordan Binnington.
Binnington was a proven winner in the AHL. In the 2017-2018 season with the Providence Bruins, he started 28 games in net and went 17-9-2 with a 2.05 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. In the 2018-2019 season in the AHL, Binnington was with the San Antonio Rampage where he started 16 games (appeared in 18) and went 11-4-3 with a 2.08 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. This was enough for Berube to realize that the time was now to bring him up and throw him into the fire. This was the best decision that Berube could have made.
This was a move that was a relief for a lot of fans after dealing with Jake Allen for so long, but not many people looked at Binnington as the “Savior of St. Louis” who would make this team great again, but that is exactly what happened. He had immediate success which continued for the remainder of the year, making Binnington the absolute workhorse in the crease. He appeared in 32 games (started 30) for the Blues in the regular season and went 24-5-1 with a 1.89 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. He didn’t miss a beat from San Antonio. Binnington led the league in goals-against average and also managed five shutouts during the season. He had done it. He turned the Blues around from the worst team in the NHL into a playoff team. But how would he do in the playoffs?
If you look at his postseason stats, they don’t reflect how good his regular season was, but it does not matter. He did what was necessary to lead the Blues to be the victors of the Stanley Cup. He allowed 2.46 goals per 60 minutes with a .914 save percentage. He was a brick wall when it mattered, especially in game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, giving up just one goal in garbage time. While Ryan O’Reilly took home the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP), the Blues would not have sniffed the playoffs, let alone be the world champions, if it wasn’t for Binnington. Now as most of us celebrate, let’s listen to Brett Hull singing “Gloria”.
— Corey Miller (@corey_miller5) June 15, 2019
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images